scuba diving certification

Things You Should Never Do Immediately After Diving

Here at SPE Dive School, we have been teaching safe diving practices for over 50 years. This experience allows us to delve into the essential precautions every diver should take after their underwater adventure. From seasoned enthusiasts to novices, discover the key steps to safeguard your health and enjoyment. In this post, we uncover 5 crucial pointers to remember after scuba diving adventure.

Pointers

  1. Drinking
  2. Exercising
  3. Elevated altitudes
  4. Hot temperature
  5. Skipping surface interval

Drinking

As you may already know, allowing your body sufficient time to eliminate absorbed nitrogen is crucial post-dive. Avoiding anything that hampers this process is essential. Alcohol consumption accelerates dehydration, heightening the potential for decompression sickness.

To mitigate these risks, it’s advisable to refrain from combining alcohol with scuba diving. However, if you choose to drink after diving, wait several hours and ensure proper hydration beforehand.

Exercising

The next crucial guideline for scuba enthusiasts is to refrain from exercising immediately after diving. Engaging in physical activities involving intense muscle use or rapid limb movement can heighten the risk of decompression sickness. Examples of such activities include:

  • Weight training sessions at the gym
  • Swimming or running post-dive
  • Participating in sports such as beach volleyball or soccer
  • Even dancing in some cases

According to the Divers Alert Network (DAN), researchers advise waiting at least 4-6 hours before exercising following a dive. Previously, the recommended time frame was 24 hours, but this is now deemed impractical. Naturally, the longer the interval between diving and exercise, the lower the risk of decompression sickness, as with many other activities on this list.

Elevated altitudes

Flying or driving to high altitudes after scuba diving poses significant risks, as pressure changes can affect the release of nitrogen from your body tissues. This could potentially leading to decompression sickness (DCS). The pressure inside an airplane cabin decreases as altitude increases, similar to a rapid ascent during diving. The longer and deeper the dive, the more nitrogen is absorbed into your system, and ascending too quickly can cause nitrogen bubbles to form, resulting in DCS, also known as “the bends.”

To minimize these risks, it’s crucial to wait before flying or driving to high altitudes after diving. As a general rule, experts recommend a 24-hour surface interval before flying to allow for the safe release of nitrogen. Similarly, driving or hiking to high altitudes should be avoided within the first 24 hours post-dive to reduce the risk of DCS.

If combining mountain climbing and diving on the same trip, it’s advisable to prioritize mountain climbing first in order to minimize potential DCS risk. After climbing or hiking, ensure adequate rest and hydration before moving on to your dive.

Other High-Altitude Activities to Avoid for 24+ Hours After Diving

  1. Parachute jumping or skydiving
  2. Paragliding
  3. Parasailing
  4. Skiing or snowboarding
  5. Air ballooning

Hot temperatures

As the body heats up and circulation enhances, the likelihood of bubble formation also rises. According to insights from the Divers Alert Network:

Since the solubility of gas is inversely related to temperature, tissues will hold less in solution as they warm. Warming tissues with significant gas loads can promote bubble formation.

https://dan.org/health-medicine/health-resources/diseases-conditions/hot-tubs-after-diving/

When you transition to a hot shower, hot tub or sauna immediately after a dive, especially following a colder dive, tissue warming precedes increased blood flow. Consequently, bubbles may develop more rapidly than circulation can safely remove them, elevating the risk of decompression sickness.

Skipping surface interval

Scuba diving can be incredibly addictive. After resurfacing from an exhilarating dive, surrounded by captivating marine creatures, the temptation to plunge back into the depths for another adventure can be irresistible.

However, it’s crucial to understand that your surface interval is non-negotiable. Following a dive, your body still retains nitrogen. Due to this, you require time for nitrogen to dissipate sufficiently in order to safely undertake another dive. The duration for the interval varies depending on factors such as the depth, duration of your previous dive, as well as your next dive. Skipping the necessary surface interval heightens the risk of decompression sickness.

Moreover, taking a surface interval provides an ideal opportunity to explore the topside wonders, swap stories with fellow divers, and indulge in much-needed relaxation before your next underwater excursion.

Conclusion

Wrapping up your scuba diving adventure, it’s crucial to follow key precautions: avoid alcohol, delay intense exercise, wait before traveling to high altitudes, avoid hot temperatures, and respect the necessary surface interval. By prioritizing safety, you not only protect your health but also enhance your diving experience. With over 50 years of experience, SPE Dive School emphasizes these precautions for divers of all levels, ensuring each dive remains safe and enjoyable. Explore our website to find out more about us or just show up to one of our free orientation time slots.

Eco-Friendly Scuba Diver

How to be an Eco-Friendly Scuba Diver This Earth Day

On Sunday, April 22nd, the world will join together to celebrate the beloved holiday known as Earth Day. It is a time where we can reflect on how our actions affect Mother Earth. Just about every activity we engage in can be improved in some way, and those improvements can keep this big blue ball that we call home rotating for the long haul. Even scuba diving correctly can be good for the Earth. Here are a few ways that you can contribute.

Keep the Boat Clean

Even before diving into the water, you want to be sure that your boat is also on the up and up. Keep track of all trash, bags, and plastic bottles, so they don’t fall into the water. Also, avoid the leakage of any cleaning products.

Avoid Contact

One of the easiest things you can do to protect the environment is to scuba dive without touching any plants or animals under the water’s surface. Doing so could cause some pretty serious long-term effects. Avoid this by maintaining buoyancy control so you can avoid crashing into any marine life. At SPE Dive School, we can show you how to do just that.

Watch Your Sunscreen

We all want to be protected from the sun, but when sunscreen leaks into the water, it can be deadly for the sea life. It is okay to wear some sunscreen to protect yourself but don’t overdo it, and if you do wear it, be extra careful about not touching the reef or fish.

Avoid Bothering the Animals

Remember that when you scuba dive, you are not there to interact but to observe. Avoid the urge to chase after sea life as doing so can add unneeded stress to the creatures. You also want to avoid feeding the animals because that could interrupt their natural nutrient balance. You may also find the need to take pictures of the fish. This is fine to do, but avoid getting too close as a bright flash can chase the marine life away from their nesting spots and can even cause blindness.

At SPE Dive School, we love scuba diving and we love exploring the sea. That’s why we do our best to remain eco-friendly during every dive. Contact us today by calling 301-657-2266 to learn more about our beginner scuba diving classes!

Scuba Diving Safety

Safety Gear for Scuba Diving

Before you look to take your scuba diving to the next level, the first step is knowing how to enjoy your new adventure as safely as possible. You can start by checking out these five helpful safety devices.

GPS

The last thing you would want to imagine is getting lost while scuba diving, but if you have the right equipment then that idea is not quite as scary. That is why you should always have a good GPS system. This smart device is capable of sending your GPS signal miles away so any number of boats can be at your rescue should you need it.

Strobe Light

Another safety item that you should not be without is a good emergency strobe. The strobe offered by Tektite is easy to use, it emits a light that can be seen from over a mile away, and it can burn for over 100 hours on three C batteries.

Signaling Sausage

If you ever come back up to the surface, only to find that your boat is gone, you will be glad to have a signaling sausage on you. This reflective strap floats to the top of the water and flashes in the sun, becoming visible up to a half a mile away.

Air Horn

While there is a chance that a rescuer could miss a flashing sausage, it’s hard to dismiss a loud air horn. Audible from a mile away, a good air horn will clip between your power inflator and your hose and is very easy to use in a pinch.

Alert Flag

One of the most fundamental safety precautions you can have is also the most helpful in a time of need, and that is a good alert flag. It’s easily stowed when attached to a D-ring or in a buoyancy-compensator pocket and it’s easy to grab whenever you need it.

For absolute safety, you would be wise to bring at least one or two of these safety items with you during your next dive. If you want to learn more about these devices or you want to know anything else about scuba diving, contact us at the SPE Dive School so we can teach you everything there is to know.

 

Scuba Diving Tips

Tips to Keep in Mind When Diving in Strong Currents

Whether you are a beginner or a veteran diver, chances are you have been caught in a strong current at some point in time. There are two schools of thought when it comes to strong currents: some people are terrified at the idea of being stuck in a current they can’t control and others enjoy the feeling of gliding effortlessly while enjoying the underwater world.

Whatever your thoughts on currents may be, there are certain factors to keep in mind to be sure that you remain safe.

Don’t fight against the current

It is important to remember that if you are caught in a current, you should not fight against it. Doing so will just make you exhausted, and if the current lasts for a continuous amount of time, it could cause trouble. Instead, consider riding out the current. Most currents are short lived, and you might enjoy the chance to steer yourself through the water.

Get out of the way

You want to do the best you can to get out of the way of the current. You can do this by trying to seek shelter behind a reef or a rock, as this will keep you out of the current’s direct path. If there isn’t much around, try to swim towards the bottom as the current usually isn’t as strong towards the ocean floor.

You can also take a cue from the fish! Fish are used to being caught in currents, so they know where to go to get out of danger. Try to mimic and follow them when possible.

Remember to breathe

When you find yourself trapped in a current, it is important to stay calm. Pace your breathing and always keep an eye on your gauges. If you get dragged down or up, be prepared to inflate or dump air quickly.

If you are boat diving and you find that you are quickly being swept down current from the boat, lose any excess weight and try to regain buoyancy as soon as possible. The sooner you can alert the boat’s staff of your issues, the better.

These safety measures that are taken when caught in a current are just one of the many lessons you will learn when you take classes at SPE Dive School. We encourage all new divers to take our beginners course so you can be ready to take on any dive and offer advanced and specialty classes as well. Call us at 301-657-2266 today to learn more about our scuba dive school!

Reusing old scuba divng tanks

Old Diving Tanks? Here’s How to Reuse Them

Oh no! Your trusty diving tank has failed hydrostatic or visual testing. What do you do now? Do you toss it? Why not think creatively and reuse your old diving tank to make something new and unique, or earn some extra money? Read on for a few ideas.

Turn old diving tanks into cash

Even if your tank isn’t usable for diving, you may be able to remove and sell the valves, or sell the entire tank for scrap metal. When in doubt, bring it to a local dive shop, where the staff may know how to reuse it.

Turn old diving tanks into bookends

Whether you collect books about diving or are just an all-around bookworm, old diving tanks make great bookends.

Use old diving tanks as a base for a one-of-a-kind lamp

Just flip the switch to bring back old diving memories. For other styles of tank lamps, visit Etsy!

Display flowers in a diving tank vase

Upcycled diving tanks make great vases. You can either buff your old tank to a high shine, or leave it rough for an industrial-chic touch.

Show the world your old diving tank

Your neighbors will know how much you love to dive when you turn your old tank into a fun mailbox, complete with a diver-down flag.

If you’ve always wanted to try diving but haven’t yet had the chance, or if you’ve gone underwater a few times and are craving more, try a class at SPE Dive School. We’ve been teaching people the art and science of diving in the DC metro area since 1972. Join us for your next adventure!

Tips for Buying Your First Scuba Wetsuit

If you’ve taken a few classes at SPE Dive School, chances are you’ve learned to love scuba diving. Perhaps you love it so much you’re thinking of purchasing your own wetsuit! Your wetsuit is your first line of defense against the elements, so it pays to know a few facts before purchasing your first wetsuit.

Make sure your wetsuit is the right fit

Your wetsuit should fit tightly, but not so tightly that it’s hard to put on or restricts circulation. Make sure you’re able to bend at the waist and touch your toes with the zipper fully engaged. This movement shouldn’t cause any constriction at the neck. If it does, your suit is too tight.

When buying a wetsuit, choose the stitch for you

Many “bargain” wetsuits use a type of stitching called overlock stitching, which can be uncomfortable against the skin and can sometimes let water seep through. The blind stitch is the best-quality construction, but can be expensive. If you’re on a budget, try something in between these two extremes. For example, flatlock stitching is quite comfortable and is reasonably good at keeping out water, especially when the suit’s seams are taped.

Consider where you’ll scuba dive before buying a wetsuit

If you’re planning on diving primarily in warm waters, a “shorty” wetsuit (one where the arms and legs end at the elbows and knees) may work for you. If you’re diving in colder climates or are particularly cold-sensitive, a longer and/or thicker suit will be better for you.

Want to learn more about diving? Try a class at SPE Dive School. We’ve been teaching people the art of diving in the DC metro area since 1972. Join us for the adventure of a lifetime!

Why you need to maintain your scuba gear

The Importance of Maintaining Your Scuba Diving Gear

If you love scuba diving, or are interested in trying it for the first time, you might think that your dive location and the sights you see are the most important parts of the experience. Not so! Far more important than either of these elements is the condition of your scuba diving gear. Poorly maintained gear can be dangerous, not to mention uncomfortable. For a safe, comfortable and enjoyable dive that lets you focus on the wonders of the underwater world, make sure to maintain your scuba diving gear in good condition.

Regulator

Your regulator is your life support system, providing you with oxygen during your dives. For that reason, it’s absolutely essential that you take it to a reputable dive shop at least once a year to have it serviced. Even if you only went on a couple of dives during that period, the regulator’s many parts can deteriorate in time, so service it annually no matter how often you dive.

Tanks

These come in either aluminum or steel. Aluminum tanks are more durable, but keep an eye out for dents and corrosion, and get valve service on an annual basis. For steel tanks, watch for rust. If you see any rust, a dive shop can take care of it with a composite rinse.

Buoyancy compensator devices

Each year, check to make sure your inflator is working properly, with no leaks, and that the washers that secure the valves and inflator are tightened.

Ready to give scuba driving a try? If you’re in the Washington, DC area and would like to book a scuba class, call SPE Dive School today at 301-657-2266!

Tips for Easy Equalizing

Tips for Easy Equalizing

If you’re experiencing ear pain on your dives, you need to improve your equalizing technique. This important skill prevents ear pain by (you guessed it) equalizing the pressure in your middle ears with the pressure around you. Your middle ears are connected to your throat by means of your Eustachian tubes, which are normally closed. Opening them is the key to equalizing. Read on for a few easy tips.

Listen for the pop

Swallow a few times. You should hear a slight pop about every other swallow. This is the way to naturally open your Eustachian tubes.

Prep early

Get ready to equalize during your dive a few hours before. Chewing gum is a great way to encourage the above mentioned pop and open those tubes, allowing higher-pressure air from the throat to access the inner ears.

Feet first

Air rises up the Eustachian tubes, and mucus flows downward. When you descend feet-first, you make it easier to equalize.

Use a descent line

Descending an anchor or mooring line helps you accurately control your descent rate and makes equalizing easier.

If it hurts, don’t do it

If you’re having a particularly hard time equalizing, come up. Your ears are delicate, and pushing through pain can damage them.

To learn more about equalizing, along with all the ins and outs of diving, call SPE Dive School at 301-657-2266 to book a diving lesson today! We’ve helped many new and experienced divers in the DC area have fun, rewarding diving experiences.

Why You Should Take a Scuba Refresher Course

Do you love to scuba dive but haven’t been diving in a while? Before you head back out to sea, consider taking a tune up/refresher course. Here are some of the top reasons why a tune up course will help you make the most of your dive.

Jog your memory

Like everything we learn, your scuba diving knowledge will fade over time if you don’t brush up on your skills every once in a while. If you don’t remember the answer to questions like “What should I do if I’m separated from my buddy?” or “What if I run low on air?” or “What should I do if I’m caught in a current?” then you are sure to benefit from a refresher course. The professionals who teach tune up courses will bring you back up to speed.

Work out the kinks

Many divers who have been inactive for a while often forget correct procedures and end up developing bad habits. If you’re anxious about any skills, taking a refresher course gives you the perfect opportunity to practice in a controlled environment. The watchful eye of a pro can also help iron out any bad habits you’ve picked up over the years.

Test your equipment

If your equipment hasn’t been used in a while, then it’s a good idea to test it out before you use it again. The last thing you want is to be out at sea and realize there is something wrong with your equipment! The professional running your course will be able to help you identify and address any issues you may be having with your equipment.

Here at SPE Dive School we offer tune up courses to help you brush up on your skills! Check out our course calendar to sign up!

Buying a Dive Torch

Tips for Buying a Dive Light

A dive light, also known as a dive torch, is an essential piece of scuba diving gear. The light is a must for night dives, and extremely helpful for exploring cracks and crevices during day dives. There are many different dive lights on the market, so before you make the investment be sure you know what to look for.

Check the label

Look for lights that are labeled water-tight and pressure-proof, and avoid lights labeled waterproof. “Waterproof” lights may resist water, but they will not withstand the pressure of deep submersion on a dive. Lights that aren’t pressure-proof are prone to cracking under pressure, which is the last thing you want to deal with on a dive!

Use rechargeable batteries

Dive lights require a lot of power to maintain a bright shine, which means they burn through batteries quickly. Using rechargeable batteries will help save you money and avoid wasting regular batteries.

Choose the right bulb

Without the bulb, there’s no light, so choosing the right one is essential. There are lots of different bulbs out there, so it comes down to preference and priority. Tungsten and halogen bulbs cost less, but they require more batteries and give off dimmer light. HIDs and LEDs are more expensive, but they are more efficient. For example, a 10-watt HID generates the same light as a 50-watt halogen, but it uses only 20 percent of the power.

To learn more about scuba diving and proper scuba diving equipment, check out SPE Dive School! We train and certify all levels of divers from the Washington, DC metro area, suburban Maryland, and Northern Virginia.

Adapting to Different Dive Environments

How to Adapt to Different Dive Environments

Scuba diving is an amazing and fun way to explore the world underwater and get a little exercise in! If you’re new to scuba diving, make sure to take some beginner classes. Once you know the basics, you can take your diving adventures to the next level and learn to adapt to different dive environments!

Night diving

There’s nothing quite like night diving – the colors are more vivid set against the darkness of the ocean at night, and you’re sure to see amazing sights, as there is some marine life that only comes out at night! The darkness can be incredible, but it’s also very different and can be intimidating.

To adapt properly, your lighting equipment will be of the utmost importance. You’ll want to have two torches – one primary and one backup – and attach a light to your tank so that your dive buddy can easily spot you. Make sure your buddy is an experienced night diver who can show you the ropes.

Drift diving

When you drift dive, you use the energy of the currents around you to dive and drift with the water without using a lot of energy. Though it can be relaxing, you must be an experienced diver to attempt it. Research the area in advance and check the weather forecast frequently so you know what kind of conditions to expect. And make sure to have a reef hook handy so you can anchor yourself if need be.

Cave diving

Cave diving is the ultimate adventure! Explore underwater passageways and marvel at different cave formations. But don’t go it alone! Diving with an experienced buddy or group is best. Analyze the passageways carefully before attempting them, and make sure to have proper lighting for dark corners and tunnels.

Get started with beginner classes at SPE Dive School so you can advance to diving in these unique environments!

Securing Your Gear While Diving

How to Secure Your Gear While Scuba Diving

New to scuba diving? Welcome to a whole new world! Scuba diving is not only a great hobby and exercise, but it opens up the entire underwater world for you to see. Whether you’re a novice diver or a pro, staying sharp when you dive is important, so here are some tips on how to make sure your gear stays secure while you dive.

Pockets

Diving isn’t an activity you can just do after jumping into a wet suit—you’ll need a number of tools and items with you underwater. If your scuba suit doesn’t have any pockets, add a few on. You can thread a pouch through your BCD, or secure one around your waist. A pocket or pouch is a great spot to keep flashlights, a spare mask, and any other accessories you need during the dive.

D-Rings

Securing a d-ring to your weight belt or tank strap will give you an extra spot to hook accessories, too. If you’re diving with a camera, or a basket to haul out some treasures, a d-ring is a great spot. You don’t want to drop something important and lose it in the reef, so keeping everything secure is important.

Lanyards

A lanyard is another way to secure your items while you dive, because they’ll keep things secure that you usually hold in your hand. But make sure that whatever accessories you’re bringing with you won’t dangle too low and damage the environment.

If you’ve never dived before, or if you need a refresher course before you head out on a diving trip, SPE Dive School offers scuba lessons in the Washington, D.C. area! We teach frequent open water scuba certification courses for beginners and advanced divers.

Discover scuba at SPE Dive School. Click here to learn about our classes, and call us today at 301-657-2266 to reserve your spot!

SCUBA Myths

Five Things People Get Completely Wrong About Scuba Diving

There are some people who are under the assumption that they need to invest hundreds and, in some cases, even thousands of dollars in order to start scuba diving. This myth couldn’t be further from the truth! When you work with a company like SPE Dive School, you can start scuba diving right away without spending a fortune on scuba equipment. This isn’t the only myth about scuba diving that exists, either. Here are five other common myths:

You need to be a competitive swimmer to keep up in scuba diving

Being a strong swimmer will certainly help you when scuba diving. But many people believe you need to be an excellent swimmer to start scuba diving in the first place. This isn’t true. As long as you have some experience swimming and don’t mind learning how to swim with all of your scuba gear, you will be just fine when you get into the water.

You can’t scuba dive if you have a medical condition

There are some medical conditions that will prevent you from scuba diving. But there are others, like asthma and diabetes that are no longer the roadblocks they used to be when it comes to scuba diving. You may need to take extra precautions because of them, but by working with your doctor, you can figure out which conditions will keep you out of the water and, more importantly, which ones won’t.

You will damage your ears if you scuba dive

If you don’t equalize the pressure in your ears before doing a deep dive while scuba diving, you may feel some discomfort in them. But this is an easy fix. By using what’s called the Valsalva maneuver and blowing against your nostrils while pinching your nose, you can provide yourself with some relief and avoid any uncomfortable feelings in your ears.

You have to be a man to scuba dive

What?! This one might be the worst myth of all. While many scuba divers were men many years ago, there are men and women who enjoy scuba diving in 2017. Regardless of your gender, you will enjoy it once you try it.

You can get the same experience snorkeling as you would scuba diving

Snorkeling can be a lot of fun. But make no mistake about it: Snorkeling and scuba diving are not one in the same. Scuba diving will allow you to experience something completely different than snorkeling will. So if you’ve only ever been snorkeling, you should open yourself up to the new experience that scuba diving will provide.

Would you like to give scuba diving a try? Register for classes with SPE Dive School or call us at 301-657-2266 for more information on how we can help you start scuba diving today!